Not two months ago, any reasonable fan could have looked at Sporting Kansas City's lineup and think, "This team needs serious reinforcements."
Now? Not so much. That's what a winning streak and a solid run of form can do to a fan-base.
But this is a Sporting Kansas City team that still needs help -- regardless of how it has played of late.
For starters, Kansas City could use a natural attacking midfielder and/or right wing. A ball-winning defensive midfielder would be nice. And, while they’re at it, some depth at centerback.**Some earlier needs, like a starting central defender that wasn’t Julio Cesar and striker, have been eased by Aurelien Collin and the development of CJ Sapong.
The following players are, in my opinion, guys that could be available, could help Kansas City or could be linked to a move to the club. Some are more wishful thinking than anything else.
And there are bound to be moves. Sporting's CEO Robb Heineman tweeted last Thursday the team was trialing a potential designated player.
Again, this is my wish list and these are players I think would be good fits. Just so we’re clear.
Designated-Player LevelRodolfo Zelaya | Striker/Attacking midfielder
The 23-year-old (he plays for Alianza in his native El Salvador but is apparently owned by Mexican side Leon) has been linked to the MLS before, with the Houston Dynamo, but he allegedly turned that down. (Money.) Zelaya played very well in the recent Gold Cup and would qualify as possible the elusive "young DP."He's recently been linked to a few French teams. Owen Hargreaves | Defensive Midfielder
The oft-injured Manchester United and Bayern Munich midfielder is currently out of contract and, probably, in need of a soft place to land and ply his trade. (I don't think a European team will touch him.) Enter the MLS! (There are some awesome/hilarious training videos showing how fit he is.
If you factor in the connection Kansas City likely has to Manchester United (at least, you'd hope there be a connection), the fact that KC needs a defensive midfielder and the cheaper rate for a mid-season DP, this could be a pretty decent bet. Why not?
I'm also not going to lie: Hargreaves is, somewhat irrationally, one of my favorite footballers ever.* Ever since his Munich days I've been a fan.* No matter what team I use in FIFA, I have always and will always try to sign him. I'll even break my personal rule of not owning a KC jersey with a player's name on it if he comes to town. I'm very irrational about this man. Harry Kewell | Attacking Midfielder
I know for a fact that Kewell was on KC's radar last year. And, now that he's no longer with Galatasaray and has allegedly turned his back on the A-League, maybe KC makes their move this year. He definitely would fit a need (right winger) and at 32 isn't much older than Bravo.Martin Petrov | Winger
The former Manchester City and current Bolton winger is a classy 'baller and the same age as Kewell. I rate Kewell slightly higher, though. Petrov's game isn't really predicated on speed but smart passing and movement -- something KC has lacked. Petrov has been linked to the MLS, but would appear more likely headed to Spain.Sulley Muntari | Midfielder
The Ghanian-born midfielder spent 2011 barely playing for Sunderland while on loan from Inter Milan and has apparentlydeclared the MLS a possibility
. He definitely has the pedigree and profile of a potential DP. And, at 26, he's (hopefully) still got a lot of soccer ahead of him too.Matthew Upson | Defender
He's a strong central defender who would definitely come into town as a starter -- and, given his likely wage demands, he'd have to be a DP. At 32, he could have a few more years in him. Could. He’d probably start for every single MLS team that isn’t Los Angeles or New York.
Fringe Designated Player-LevelBlas Perez | Striker
The Panamanian striker (who plays at Mexican side Leon) has bounced around a bit (Spain, Dubai, Mexico, etc.) and has been a proficient goal scorer -- a typical profile for an MLS player. He scored two goals during Panama's 2011 Gold Cup run.Junior Diaz | Defender
Another Panamanian (hey, they could be the first players sold on the team because of Livestrong Sporting Park!), Diaz played sparingly for Club Brugge in Belgium but was strong in the Gold Cup. He has one of the main qualities Vermes looks for in a player -- versatility. He can play across the back and in midfield.
There are likely a few American players returning to the States this summer -- though, because of the confusing allocation process utilized by MLS, it's hard to speculate on where each might land.
After D.C. United snagged Charlie Davies and New England brought in Benny Feilhaber this year, KC sits 6th in the allocation order (I think) behind Chivas, Philadelphia, Houston, Toronto and Chicago. (Philadelphia hinted during the Feilhaber sweepstakes that salary cap space is an issue. You’d think with three DPs, the same issue might affect Toronto.)Jonathan Spector | Midfielder/Defender
He's no longer with West Ham and has been somewhat fairly maligned for his play with the U.S. national team. I rate him rather highly, especially as a central midfielder, and his years of training at a high-level would make him a hot commodity in MLS.
He has three traits Vermes looks for: Trained at a big club in his youth (Manchester United), has positional flexibility (any spot on the backline and central midfield) and is available on a free. Though, as I said, KC would have to luck out in the allocation order. He's my No. 1.Freddy Adu | Attacking Midfielder
After a strong showing in limited appearances at the Gold Cup and his lack of playing time in Europe, it could be time for America's tarnished golden child to come home. He's still just 22. He's still a great passer of the ball. And he's still got years to grow -- if properly developed. He would ask for DP-level wages, but he's unlikely to get any MLS team to pay them. He's my No. 2 -- but I doubt he'll ever play in MLS again.Eddie Johnson | Striker
Let's just move on.
There are two players in MLS whom I think would make great additions to the Sporting Kansas City roster -- though I have no idea what it would take to procure either.Brek Shea | Forward/Midfielder
Can play just about anywhere. Is dangerous with or without the ball. And his hair would fit right in alongside Chance Myers.Robbie Rogers | Midfielder
Rumors swirled earlier that he might be available. Those were quashed by Columbus. If he is available, he could give KC a reliable left-side attacker and move Omar Bravo to attacking midfielder (where I think he belongs).
If I had to guess, Rogers would be headed to Seattle before anywhere else.
Well, that’s my list. Who’s on your wish list?